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116                                    VEED1CT  ON INDIA

Theie was Sir. Choudhuri's art school.

It revealed itself by accident. I was driving through the city
one day when we passed an old building which, for a change, was
not markedly hideous This was such a pleasant surprise that it
seemed a good idea to get out and look at it. There was a little
garden stretching round the house, and a flight of steps leading to
something that resembled a studio. Was it possible that an artist
might possibly be lurking within ?

It was. I walked up the steps9 knocked on a door and found
myself in a lecture room where an art class was in progress. As
nobody seemed to mind my being there. I stayed and watched.

Over the productions of the students, we will draw the customary
veil; our sensibilities have already been sufficiently strained. But
when the students had departed I had a long talk with Choud-
huri, and saw some of his work. It is not calculated to set the
Ganges on fire, but at least it is alive. Choudhuri has something
to say on canvas, and is technically competent to say it.

But what he said in words was more interesting than what he
said in paint. It was precisely what I have been saying throughout
this chapter. India was an arlistic desert. There was not even a
polite pretence that art was of any importance. Artists migit play
a small part in commerce—though, of course, the photographer
was regarded as a higher type of being. Otherwise, the artist was
on the level with the untouchable.1

We will cut short this weary quest. Although it lasted for months
and was pursued all over India, it produced only one artist of any
consequence, by name Jamini Roy.
I saw my first Roy at Sirs. Naidu's in Hyderabad, and later
discovered considerable collections in Calcutta, Lahore, and other
places. After the sickly, smoky efforts of his contemporaries his
pictures have the effect of high explosive. He has several distinct
1 Gandhi is probably typical of the modern Hindu's complete insensibility to art;
it simply does not enter his scheme of things. He might say about it what GL K.
Chesterton once said about music.. .'I understand it so little that it does not even
annoy me I*